Senior Advisory Group D21/34573
National Indigenous Voice Co-design Process
Reply Paid 83380
CANBERRA ACT 2601
Dear Senior Advisory Group,
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the Indigenous Voice Co-design Process Interim
Report (Interim Report). I also appreciate the opportunities that have been provided for the
Victorian Government to participate in the co-design process for the development of the
Voice to date, through the Senior Officials Group.
The Victorian Government welcomes the co-design groups’ recognition of the importance of
complementing existing jurisdictional arrangements and working effectively with existing
bodies and stakeholders.
The Victorian Government bases its engagement with Aboriginal communities and its
policies in this state on the principle of self-determination, as outlined in the
Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework 2018-2023 (VAAF). In doing so, we have heard that
Aboriginal Victorians have prioritised treaty as an important component of self determination.
Any Voice model should therefore respect Victoria’s commitment to self-determination, treaty
and associated representative structures, including the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria
As the State’s interim counterpart in the treaty process under the Advancing the Treaty
Process with Aboriginal Victorians Act 2018 (Treaty Act) and Victoria’s first democratically
elected representative body for Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians, the
Victorian Government emphasises that the Assembly should be the key engagement
mechanism in Victoria for the Voice and its development, should the Assembly consent to
While negotiations with the Assembly have yet to commence on the topic, the treaty process
may lead to the establishment of an ongoing Aboriginal representative body in Victoria. While
it is still to be determined how Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians might mandate
any such body, the Assembly will, by its statutory functions, be involved in agreeing the
framework for its negotiation. It is therefore appropriate in the immediate term for the
Assembly to represent Victoria in Voice structures.
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Any ongoing representative body established through Victoria’s treaty process should be
respected as the foremost community-determined representative structure for Aboriginal
Victorians, and accordingly we would expect it to be fully integrated into the Voice. This may
be achieved, for example, by structurally linking the Assembly to the Voice by empowering
the body to select Victoria’s Voice representatives from within its membership.
The flexible, principles-based approach outlined in the Interim Report should allow this to
occur and facilitate the continuing involvement of local and state-based representative
structures in the Voice as they change over time.
Regarding the specific models for a National Voice proposed in the Interim Report, the
Victorian Government will continue working with the Commonwealth Government and
Aboriginal Victorians to determine the most appropriate and effective means of
representation. As a general principle, the Victorian Government’s preference is for the
Assembly to lead a process to determine Victoria’s members for the National Voice.
Victoria considers the proposal for up to two ministerial appointees would dilute the
authenticity and legitimacy of the National Voice and is not consistent with the principle of
Regarding the specific models for a Victorian Local and Regional Voice proposed in the
Interim Report, the Victorian Government considers that the proposal for Victoria to have two
regions is incompatible with current, community-determined arrangements. The
Victorian Government strongly recommends that any regional or sub-regional approach in
Victoria must align with the Assembly’s five-region structure, as well as any ongoing
representative structures at the regional and local level established through Victoria’s treaty
In addition, the direct participation of formally recognised Traditional Owner groups at the
regional and local level should be considered, irrespective of whether such groups choose to
engage in Victorian treaty process.
As with the proposals for a National Voice, Victoria supports a selection process for a
Local and Regional Voice that allows Indigenous communities to self-determine their
representation for each region. The appropriate mechanism for self-determining
representation should be endorsed by the Assembly and align with any such mechanisms
determined through Victoria’s treaty process.
Attached for your information is the Advancing the Victorian Treaty Process Annual Report
2019-20 and the Assembly’s Annual Report to Parliament 2020, prepared by the Victorian
Government and the Assembly, respectively, under the Advancing the Treaty Process with
Aboriginal Victorians Act 2018. Along with the VAAF, these reports provide valuable context
for Victoria’s approach to Aboriginal affairs and our ground-breaking journey towards treaty
with Aboriginal Victorians.
The Victorian Government welcomes the Commonwealth Government’s continued
commitment to working in genuine partnership with state, territory and local governments by
engaging bilaterally and through the Senior Officials Group for the Voice co-design process.
The Victorian Government looks forward to continuing to work constructively with Aboriginal
communities and the Commonwealth Government on the Voice, while continuing our
nation-leading work to implement the “Truth” and “Treaty” elements called for in the
Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Gabrielle Williams MP
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs
Minister for Prevention of Family Violence
Minister for Women
Encl. Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework 2018-2023
Advancing the Victorian Treaty Process Annual Report 2019-20
First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria Annual Report to Parliament 2020